Alternatives Analysis released for East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project; bus rapid transit and light rail on Van Nuys Boulevard recommended for further study

The project alternatives recommended for more study by Metro staff. Click above to see larger.

The project alternatives recommended for more study by Metro staff. Click above to see larger.

The bus rapid transit alternative recommended for further study for the Eastern San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

The bus rapid transit alternative recommended for further study for the Eastern San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

The light rail alternative recommended for further study. Click above to see larger.

The light rail alternative recommended for further study. Click above to see larger.

A bus rapid transit or light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard are among the options recommended for further study in the Alternative Analysis released today by Metro for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. The study considered more than 30 alternatives for improving transit in the eastern Valley and narrowed them down to six.

On Wednesday, the Metro Board’s Planning Committee will consider contract changes needed to advance the project into its Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report phase, which is expected to take about a year to complete.

Several very busy Metro bus lines already run in the project’s study area, including the Rapid 761 on Van Nuys Boulevard. The corridor also includes connections to the Metro Orange Line and Metrolink’s Antelope Valley and Ventura lines, as well as Amtrak.

In plain English, an Alternatives Analysis details why the project is needed and identifies reasonable project alternatives based on cost, technical issues and community input. Some key points in the Alternatives Analysis study that we know are of interest to Source readers:

•Staff is planning to evaluate two “build” alternatives in the DEIS/R: light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT). A streetcar was eliminated because of its lack of community support, speed and capacity.

•The light rail and bus rapid transit alternatives being recommended by staff focus on Van Nuys Boulevard, the Valley’s heaviest north-south transit route and the seventh busiest bus corridor in the Metro system. Buses on Van Nuys carry more than double the ridership of nearby Sepulveda Boulevard. Van Nuys Boulevard also includes several major activity centers as the chart below shows.

Major activity centers in the study area for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

Major activity centers in the study area for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

•The future transit line is envisioned to run in its own dedicated right-of-way in the center of the street if it’s a light rail line and mostly in the center of the street if it’s BRT. Side and curb-running alignments were removed from further consideration due to the many driveways and turn lanes on Van Nuys Boulevard that would interfere with transit operations.

•One goal of the project is to increase the frequency, speed and reliability of transit in the study area. Bus speeds on Van Nuys Boulevard, in particular, are highly variable because of traffic congestion.

• Another Measure R project that is being coordinated with this project, is the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor. That project’s study area partially overlaps with this one — it is considering ways to improve transit from the northern San Fernando Valley in a north-south corridor that stretches south to Los Angeles International Airport.

•Among options under consideration for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor are bus rapid transit, rail transit and alternatives that combine BRT or rail with managed toll lanes or even a tolled highway tunnel; here’s a power point. As planning proceeds on both projects, Metro planners will consider ways for them to connect the project.

•It is important to remember that the East San Fernando Valley project has an estimated completion date of 2018 in Metro’s long-range plan while the Sepulveda Pass project has an estimated finish date of 2039. A potential public-private partnership is under study for the Sepulveda Pass project as a way to accelerate its construction.

•About 50 percent of the transit trips that begin in the study area also end in the study area meaning, of course, that roughly half the people boarding transit in the area are headed outside the corridor to trips both elsewhere in the Valley and throughout the entire region.

This map shows where transit-goers are headed in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. Click above to see larger.

This map shows where transit-goers are headed in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. Click above to see larger.

•The study area has a population of nearly 458,000 and is expected to keep growing — one reason that transit travel times are expected to worsen if nothing is done. The Valley as a whole has more than 1.7 million people making it more populous than most other American cities. It’s also interesting that the corridor’s population densities and transit dependency rates are twice that of the LA County average.

•The bus rapid transit and light rail alternatives recommended for further study have costs ranging between $250 million and $2.3 billion. Metro’s long-range plan has $170.1 million earmarked for the project. Cost estimates will continue to be refined and Metro may explore potential cost savings — i.e. opening the project in phases, among others — and other possible sources of funds that will be available.

•The city of L.A. is a co-lead on the project with the city of San Fernando serving as a contributor as Metro will need both jurisdictions help to build the project on city streets.

Stay tuned for public scoping meetings to be held this spring as the first step in the environmental clearance phase.

–Steve Hymon and Dave Sotero

48 thoughts on “Alternatives Analysis released for East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project; bus rapid transit and light rail on Van Nuys Boulevard recommended for further study

  1. Hi Dennis;

    Please no more comments on this post. You’ve left 11 of them and that’s enough to make your points.

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

  2. @ Dennis Hindman

    Im well aware of the financial limitation that LRTP has in place for this project but with that said LRT is still and alternative and Metro chose to to keep on studying through the DEIR even after it got rid of the streetcar for being impractical. If the public wants LRT then metro has to study to see if it can some how bridge the gap between the allocated funds and whatever the expected cost for the most cheapest, practical initial segment would be.

    Besides you never know where extra money might come from. I mean Metro Rail ridership has been performing really well as of late, it might free up some Prop A and C funds being used to subsidize the service and redirect it towards construction. Or better yet change the metro rail and Orange Line fare structure to be more like BART with its 60% farebox recovery and that will for sure open up some Prop A and C funds for rail construction.

  3. One thing I’m curious about, what will happen the 761 Rap if BRT is build?? I just realize that if this thing is build, there is still the section Between Foothill Blvd & San Fernando Rd, as well as the section Between Wilshire Blvd & Ventura Blvd. The way I see it, it seems like this is the 761 Rapid running on its own lane if BRT is the final decision. Also, why end the exclusive ROW for BRT at Orange Line?? looking at Apple and Google maps, this thing can easily run curbside from Orange Line to 101 FWY. Still, it’ll be nice to see this again (its Ghost of course): http://www.pacificelectric.org/pacific-electric/western-district/5110-in-van-nuys/

  4. Steve, I think we have found the next most anticipated opening of a line if it comes to be fruition. Definitely generating a lot of buzz around town and on transit blogs. A lot of people are voicing their opinions and coming up with ideas. We all hope Metro does the right thing here.. @ Dennis Hindman, I give you a lot of credit man for being an advocate for BRT, the more power to you. Most comments I’ve seen on here in a while, probably since Expo. Another hot topic will probably be the Airport connector..

  5. “It currently takes the Orange Line about 42 minutes to run between NoHo and Warner Center and about 52 minutes between NoHo and Chatsworth on direct runs.”

    Wow! Kind of slow. However, the residents along the Orange Line didn’t want rail so they got BRT instead. If Metro doesn’t build a rail line for the ESFV corridor, from what I’ve been reading on this board, the residents will feel like the unwanted step child of the City. However, the cost to build the BRT is affordable for what Metro has budgeted for this route.

  6. @Dave

    The community meeting I attended had similar comments about that line and Foothill Blvd and also Mission College. Metro staff said that they would look at increasing frequency of buses. I remember something being asked about the line over the Sepulveda Pass but I don’t quite remember what was said.

    Metro’s report lists termination of the line at either Van Nuys Blvd or running the line parallel to the Orange line and then then turning south on Sepulveda and ending at the Galleria on Ventura Blvd. It hasn’t been decided.

    Metro has said that they are also trying to coordinate with the 405/Sepulveda pass project, which could effect this project, but when I asked questions about this integration they had no nothing to say.

  7. How much light rail can be built with the $170M? Maybe two stations, a maintenance yard, and about 1 mile of track? Still a better investment than 12 miles of bus

  8. As someone who lives a few yards from a potential future project, I am hoping the outcome is LRT, not just for Van Nuys Boulevard, but for an eventual Sylmar to LAX line that provide a vital link to the Westside.

    Van Nuys Boulevard has no other paralleling Metro Rail or even Transitway line, and being one of the busiest existing bus corridor, should be LRT, whereas the other paralleling corridors: Reseda, Sepulveda, and Lanksershim Boulevards could be BRT.

    I’m sure other sources of funding could be made available for Van Nuys Boulevard no different than how the Crenshaw Boulevard corridor was able to secure additional funding for LRT.

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